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I just created an oyster mushroom chowder with a cashew-cream base for my vegetarian wife who can't do dairy.

It turned out OK, but I overdid the celery and it tested strongly like cream of celery soup. Is there any way to cut back the flavor after it's finished besides adding more cream and veggie broth, which would throw off all the rest of the flavors which I nailed?

  • Just to be sure I understand you - your goal is to suppress the celery flavor, without affecting any of the other flavors in the soup? – logophobe Sep 25 '14 at 14:48
  • Yup, that's correct. – Chris Pfohl Sep 25 '14 at 15:07
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I'm going to step out on a limb here and declare that you'll need to add more of the other ingredients. Even then, you're likely to throw off the overall balance of flavors because they have not all cooked together.

Here's a study abstract that suggests there are about 6 compounds that primarily contribute to the flavor and aroma of celery. However, as a home cook, I have no idea what any of these are or how to suppress them specifically. It may be possible to do so, but that solution is likely to be impractical for the home chef.

Another problem is that celery has a very flavor-enhancing effect; this is why it shows up so often in traditional vegetable bases like mirepoix and trinity. Here's another nifty article summarizing a paper that identified the specific compounds responsible for this; the odd thing is that these "phthalides" are largely tasteless. In short: the balance and overall tastiness of your soup might have been reached specifically by adding so much celery.

I think you're going to have to chalk this one up as a learning experience and adjust your recipe next time. One thing you could try (if you're not already, which would surprise me a little) is sweating the celery. I find that this makes the flavor overall a bit milder, with less of the vegetal-bitter flavors while still getting the umami-enhancing effect.

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  • Alright. It wasn't a bad learning experience. The soup was delicious, just not what I was imagining, and now I have leftovers that are a perfect base for any recipe I find that requests cream of ____ soup. I usually skip those recipes since my wife can't have them... – Chris Pfohl Sep 25 '14 at 15:46
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yea there is! I find that Irish potatoes, and tomatoes(are the two things l keep around to) diminish celery flavor, if it ends out overpowering a cooked recipe. Using it freeze-dried, and grinded into powder! Sprinkle a bit of each, into your warm oyster mushroom chowder, and stir in to taste.. then heat up to full temp & serve..

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  • Hm, this is a white chowder. Potatoes sounds totally reasonable, but tomatoes would change the look and taste entirely... – Chris Pfohl Feb 7 at 14:45
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I've had success using Chinese hot mustard to diminish the flavor of celery. I usually dip the end of a fork into the hot mustard and use whatever sticks to the ends of the tines -- in other words, not much; a drop or two.

Caveat: I usually do this with stir-fries, and while the mustard flavor isn't strong, it is detectable. I'm not sure how well it would work with your soup.

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  • Ha ha! Pretty sure mustard would taste really odd in a chowder. I've also been wrong before. Thanks!! – Chris Pfohl Feb 7 at 14:44
  • You'd be surprised; to me, mustard is one of those magic spices. A tiny bit can transform a dish without imparting a noticeable mustard flavor, while a little bit more can be overpowering. Cayenne and bay leaf are similar. – user76491 Feb 7 at 23:49

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